Father Involvement Among Nonresident Dads: Does Paternity Leave Matter?

Natasha V. Pilkauskas, William J. Schneider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: This article examines whether paternity leave influences father involvement among nonresident fathers, if associations differ by coresidential status, and whether leave is a stronger predictor of nonresident father involvement than other indicators of father identity or interest. Background: Fathering promotes child development, yet many children are born to unmarried parents and do not live with their fathers. Paternity leave may increase fathering among nonresident fathers, but extant research has largely overlooked these fathers. Method: Using the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study (N∼2,000), a longitudinal birth cohort of largely low-income families, this study examines the link between paternity leave and parenting using regression analyses. Results: Leave-taking was associated with higher reports of engagement for both coresident and nonresident fathers, but for maternal reports of trust, coparenting, and responsibility, the positive associations with leave-taking were concentrated among nonresident fathers. Nonresident fathers who took leave were more likely to provide in-kind child support but not monetary support. Although leave, prenatal involvement, and being at the birth were all associated with greater involvement among nonresident fathers, mothers' reports of fathering were more strongly influenced by prenatal involvement and being at the hospital for the birth than leave. Conclusion: Leave-taking is associated with maternal reports of trust, coparenting, and responsibility for nonresident fathers but not coresident fathers. Leave and prenatal involvement predict nonresident father involvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1606-1624
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Marriage and Family
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2020


  • family structure
  • fatherhood
  • fathers
  • fragile families
  • parental leave
  • parenting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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